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El Paso County Colorado District 49

D 49 BOE update

The El Paso County School District 49 Board of Education held its monthly meeting Dec. 15. All BOE members were present. Amy Matisek, internal communications manager, started the Fantastic 49 celebration. The following were recognized. ï Benjamin Chapman, Eagle Scout and Falcon High School senior, for building two buddy benches for Bennett Ranch Elementary to support the schoolís ìeveryone belongsî culture. When a student sits on a bench, itís a signal for other students to join them. ï Julie Platt, Falcon Elementary Schoolís reading interventionist, for providing resources to teachers supporting students struggling with reading ï Monica Deines-Henderson, director of nutrition services, for always looking for the best products and distributors; and ensuring that every student receives a hot and nutritious meal ï Parent volunteer Carolyne Morris for organizing fundraisers and bringing innovative ideas to Inspiration View Elementary School ï Jackie Ballou, community care advocate in Falcon Zone, for her work with attendance, academic and behavioral needs of students at Falcon Middle School ï Special education team at Falcon Middle School for connecting with students, staff and families to support studentsOpen forumThe majority of speakers during open forum were parents, students and teachers from Liberty Tree Academy, a D 49 charter school in existence for four years. They spoke in opposition of the schoolís board of directors and management of the administration and staffing. They expressed concern that board members did not have children in the school nor did they reside in the area. They asked the D 49 BOE to intervene.Peter Hilts, chief executive officer, said the relationship between D 49 and LTA is contractual. He said with any new charter school application, a capacity interview is conducted of the board members and leadership. The process is repeated during the renewal cycle, which is taking place in January. Hilts said, ìGiven the volume of concerns weíve heard, itís reasonable for us to conduct a more in-depth capacity interview.î Hilts anticipates the review process will take place in January, with recommendations to the BOE during the February annual planning meeting.CEO updateHilts recognized Vista Ridge High Schoolís coed cheer team for winning the 5A championship, the first D 49 school to win. He congratulated Vista Ridge High School student Brayden Dorman for winning the Denver Post Gold Helmet Award, naming him the top football player in the state of Colorado. Falcon High School wrestling team won the Triangular Wrestling Tournament for the seventh year in a row.Hilts commended the communications staff for placing D 49 billboards in multiple areas. The theme of the billboards is ìGreat Choices Launch Every Student to Success.îHilts attended the first annual fair for culturally and linguistically diverse families. He said, ìIt was the warmest, most welcoming, gracious, inclusive and diverse event Iíve been to in D 49 for a long time.î He thanked the families for sharing their traditions.Student Board of Representativesí updateJamie Bell said the SBOR sent representatives to the Colorado Association of School Boards conference where they collaborated with other school board administrators. She said it was an opportunity to further develop leadership skills. Bell said the SBOR reviewed the list of social-emotional learning programs being reviewed by the BOE. They support a recent resolution they submitted to encourage social-emotional learning initiatives that help develop the whole child.Board updateJohn Graham, president, attended the cultural fair and the CASB conference. He said the conference provided many classes to choose from, including student-led classes and a cultural class. He said D 49 students expressed disagreement with the BOE on the need for social-emotional learning programs. ìThey were well spoken and knew what they were talking about Ö students want to see focus on the whole child,î he said.Rick Van Wieren, vice president, said there were many seasonal events taking place in the district. He said, ìWhatever your religious beliefs or lack thereof, I hope you can join me in a spirit of peace and goodwill in a time when so precious little of either seems to exist.î Van Wieren said this is a hard time for many families who have lost loved ones this year.Ivy Liu, director, said she attended the Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education Fair and spoke with students from Venezuela, Cuba and Afghanistan about the influence of socialism and communism in their countries. She said she would like the district to purchase good character development programs. Liu said some SEL curriculum has critical race theory embedded within it. ìWe shouldnít be spending money on that. Itís our job to protect our kids from harmful stuff.îLori Thompson, secretary, was a speaker at an ALLIES Foundation presentation. She said, ìThey presented slides and videos that really enhanced my own understanding of dyslexia.î Thompson said she attended a class on Article I, Section 15 of the Colorado Constitution and found that Colorado is one of seven states that exercises local control. ìWhile we are guided by state standards, we have local control, which better represents our community by representative governments.î She spoke about some of the D 49 board accomplishments this year, including the passage of a parentís bill of rights and responsibilities, a transparency policy and the development of key performance indicators.Jamilynn DíAvola, treasurer, attended the December District Accountability Advisory Committee meeting. The DAAC would like a presentation about facilities projects in process. She shared quotes about the importance of family, religion and education. DíAvola said, ìSocial-emotional learning is lathered with CRT content. Whether weíre teaching that part or not is not the point. The point is that itís not transparent. Itís not responsible for us to say that weíre just going to not teach the bad parts and only pull out the good when there are countless other things that we can be teaching our students through other organizations and points of view.îAction itemsThe BOE unanimously approved the following: ï Contract renewal with Sentinel Technologies ï Eight new coursesThe BOE approved the following: ï Trusted culture and character education materials ï Board member code of conductDiscussion itemsHilts presented an enrollment and amended budget update. Actual enrollment was 369 students fewer than projected. However, because total enrollment in the state is down, the per-pupil revenue rate is higher ó based on the total state budget. The D 49 budget has been adjusted accordingly. The budget will be moved to the next BOE meeting for approval.Paul Anderson, interim executive director of people and culture, and Amy Matisek, internal communications manager, provided an overview of the Voice of the Workforce survey. The survey participation rate was 92% of employees. The highest scores in the employee satisfaction category were given in relationships with coworkers, safe environment, manager communication and a collaborative environment. The lowest scores were given in competitive salaries. The highest scores for employee engagement were given in relationship with manager, continuous development, reasonable goals, leader actions and recognition for performance. More than 8,600 comments were provided by survey participants. Major concerns included competitive compensation, work-life balance and personal wellness, along with apprehension about trust and respect related to the BOE. Positive themes were admirable performances of colleagues and local leadership teams, and relationships with coworkers and managers. Hilts said results from the VoW work will be provided to the BOE during the February planning summit.Anderson presented proposed revisions to the stakeholder grievance policy that outline a clearer process of reviewing grievances and written BOE decisions. There was consensus to move the policy forward for a vote at the next BOE meeting.The next regular meeting of the BOE is Jan. 12 at 6:30 p.m. in the Peakview Hall at the Creekside Success Center in Colorado Springs.

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